1. Missed the live Ask the Expert event?
    Catch up on the conversation about fertilization strategies for success with the experts at Koch Turf & Ornamental in the Fertilizer Application forum.

    Dismiss Notice

Cargo van for mowing?

Discussion in 'Trucks and Trailers' started by cgrant711, May 24, 2014.

  1. cgrant711

    cgrant711 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 320

    Hey everyone, I came across a pretty good opportunity for me to get a 3500 cargo van for $2000 and I mow for the mechanic selling it. So he said he be willing to let me make payments if I have too.

    I'm not sure of the miles or anything, he said he sell it for $500 now but it needs front end work. I know he is giving me a good deal, so I'm nit asking about that.

    I want to see some pics of some cargo van setups because I could only find one and it wasn't really helpful.

    I will most likely buy the van after he fixes the front end for me, as long as everything checks out on it. My plan is to mow with it for now, until I get my mid size truck and trailer, then turn it into an irrigation/Landscape truck. I don't run any zturns at the moment so I'll be good for a while. Plus I can always hook up my trailer if I need to.

    I'm also buying a 2003 chevy 3500 flatbed dually that he has been storing for someone, after I sell my jeep.

    For landscaping jobs, I was just wondering how much are your big trucks worth to you? I guess I'm saying how much money could they make you because you can handle more things.

    I mainly just mow,but sometimes do bigger jobs. I have already had to make several trips back to places because my current truck and trailer can't haul a lot of weight for those better paying jobs. Which makes them not better paying jobs and I have almost just started turning down jobs because I feel like ill be making a dozen trips just to get materials there. Let me know what y'all think?
  2. 360ci

    360ci LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 998

    Growing is hard. If I do jobs that don't involve me needing my brother (I own several apartment buildings and maintain them) I use my older Durango. I throw everything I need in the back. Most of my equipment is rather light weight (push mowers, etc) so lifting it in/out isn't a problem. I thought about getting a 2500 Express merely for the added height and ability to add a ramp. It's also useful when doing apartment renovations, as 4x8 materials won't fit in my Durango but they will fit in the utility trailer. However, my utility is an open box, limiting me to the weather. I try not to do any renovations over the winter months that involve large building materials, or I need to rent a van which cuts into my bottom line. I look after a few other light commercial lots as well in select areas where walk behinds can get the job done in quick order.

    There are a few guys on here that operate solely out of full size vans. For me, I wouldn't trust leaving my equipment out in the open alone for any length of time in some areas in the city. I've had a few things walk away over the years. My trailer can carry 3K lbs of anything, and I can put 1500lbs in my SUV making it a good setup for what I need it for.

    I've thought about getting a 2500 long box 4x4 as it would make quick work if I can plow my lots instead of using a snow blower, although two locations have no where for me to plow the snow to, I need to blow it over a small fence onto the lawn or I lose tenant parking. With the added payload of the truck and ability to carry building materials I could limit my trailer use. As my SUV has a 5.9L V8, going with a 2500 gas truck will be similar in operating cost, but save me of having to tote the trailer around all the time.

    I use my utility trailer for mulch jobs, but I only get mulch for myself and a couple of clients as it's a non-dumping trailer, which really cuts into the labour time. A 3500 with a 10' dump bed can be profitable, but building a client base to see an actual profit is the question you need to think about. Using a 3500 truck for a few hours one day a week will cost you more than its worth. I would think about doing a marketing campaign in order to build business, and once you get more established you won't need to worry about advertising.

    In my area, most mulch places offer delivery to the tune of $50 within the region/county. Roughly 25 miles end to end. That doesn't include placement, they dump it on your driveway and leave. It makes for a quick turnaround. Profit in mulch is negligible and some places offer different prices per yard delivered. Soil weighs more so that's another thing to consider. Weight is your enemy when it comes to mileage, and wear and tear on vehicles. A 3500 truck can cost quite a bit to maintain, from tires, brakes, bearings, and so on. I had a one ton Sprinter dually for a few years and 6 new tires ran me $2100 with taxes installed and balanced in Ontario, Canada. I could've bought 'cheaper' tires but they were only $200 less with a much lower tread wear rating and poorer reviews. After 28,000kms only 1/32 of tread was worn on all 6, with doing 6 tire rotation every 10,000kms.

    You need to put together a long term business plan and see which direction you want to go, and look at the feasibility of operating a heavy truck. For us smaller operators it's a lot harder to justify choosing just one or two vehicles to fill a variety of jobs.

Share This Page